“When we were starting out our manager, Jared, told us happy music wasn’t in style. Then Pharrell came out with ‘Happy,’ and we were like, ‘Take that!”
It’s a Monday afternoon and indie-pop band Misterwives is hanging out in a conference room at Universal Music Group’s headquarters in New York, signing copies of Our Own House, their much anticipated debut album. “You can sell it on Ebay for five dollars,” offers frontwoman Mandy Lee Duffy, as she passes me one across the table.
“So your manager really said that happy was out?” I ask.
“Yeah that would be me,” says Jared, looking up from his computer as the room erupts into laughter.
“He’s actually an amazing ‘mom-ager,’” Mandy Lee says. “But it’s true—writing a happy song is so much harder than writing a sad song; I felt like everything happy I wrote sounded like Barney. When I was having writer’s block and wasn’t used to writing under time constraints our other manager and my boyfriend had this plan that he would pretend to break up with me so I’d have something to write about.”
“We didn’t know if it would be best to keep her really miserable during the writing process,” says her boyfriend, Etienne Bowler, the band’s drummer.
“Thank god we didn’t go through with that,” says guitarist Marc Campbell with a genuine note of relief, and everyone laughs some more.
It’s certainly a good thing they didn’t, because the markedly buoyant collection of songs that make up Our Own House is winning over fans everywhere for being precisely the opposite of miserable. The band’s eclectic sound, taking cues from Motown, reggae, blues, and a touch of EDM, is fused together by the big ballad vocals of Mandy Lee—and some truly killer choruses. The overall effect is already infecting dance floors everywhere, and their first single, “Reflections,” has over 20 million Spotify streams to show for it.
Misterwives is almost entirely New York City born and bred—apart from Scotsman Campbell—with the other four members hailing from “every borough but Brooklyn.” They feel like their music takes after the city it was made in. “The album is a melting pot in every sense of the word,” says Jesse Blum, the band’s multi-instrumentalist (who fosters a fetching fondness for bowties). Marc adds, “It’s unapologetic, like us. It just is what it is.”
It’s impossible not to be excited for the band at this moment, as they teeter on the precipice of sweeping fame. They’re one of MTV’s Artists to Watch, and they’re playing late night shows like Seth Meyers and Jimmy Kimmel. But they’re still just funny kids you want to hang out with. Bassist Will Hehir got a little too drunk after Jimmy Kimmel and got kicked off their plane back to New York.
“He got on the plane and sat in the stewardess’ seat. He tried to sit with the pilots. He said, ‘I’m flying this thing!’ The woman was like ‘Excuse me sir, that’s not your seat.’ He said, ‘But I just want to sit with you guys.’ And they were not having it.”
So, maybe it’s for the best that they’ll be on a bus today as they hit the road for their U.S. tour. Here’s their ultimate “On the Road” playlist; it’s almost like they’re taking us with them when they go.